Spring is right around the corner, which makes this a great time to discuss the Oriental Medicine approach to the relationship between springtime and health.
What comes to mind when we think of spring? Fresh and colorful flowers, fruits, sunshine, and vegetables. Sitting by the pond enjoying the light sun warming up our faces, birds singing, spring showers, rainbows: these are the things that make up springtime.
Oriental Medicine uses the Five Elements to break down each season according to organ, color, taste, smell, emotions, sounds, tissues, and climates. These five elements will keep our bodies in balance and engage total attention to different parts of us as our bodies cycle just like the seasons. Spring is for regeneration, birth, growth, new beginnings, and it is ideal for cleansing and rejuvenation. Wood is Spring’s element. Its movement is expansion, which makes sense since spring is about growth. Spring’s color is green, its taste is sour, and its organs are liver and gallbladder.
Keeping our body in balance during the spring season requires detoxing our liver and gallbladder to rid toxins that accumulate over the winter hibernating months where we tend not to eat as well and not have as many fresh fruits and vegetables available to us. There are ways to keep ourselves healthy during spring and to keep our liver and gallbladder working at an optimal level.
The liver controls the tendons this is why stretching is so important at any time but especially during the spring. This will help with the smooth flow of liver qi (vital energy) and keep our bodies feeling energetic!
PUCKER UP, BUTTERCUP
Sour is the taste of spring. Sour flavors stimulate proper liver functioning. Squeeze fresh lemon in your water, or add it to your springtime salad. Use oil and vinegar as a dressing. Garnish your meal with a dill pickle, or have it for a snack.
GO OUTSIDE AND TAKE A DEEP BREATH
One thing we all forget to do is take a few deep breaths during the day, well now we should be going outside and breathing in the fresh and floral smell of spring! More outdoor activities like hiking, bike rides, canoeing, paddle boarding, or even a good walk or jog or run engage our need to breathe deeply of the season.
HERBAL TEA TIME
Milk thistle tea or even just milk thistle herb is most well-known for being a natural liver supporter and detoxifier. The liver constantly works hard to help defend us from toxins that are common in our everyday life, acting as a filter and removing harmful substances from the body. Milk thistle is shown to decrease, or even reverse, damage to the liver that’s been caused by prescription medications, antibiotics, pollution, and heavy metals. It also helps support the gallbladder by preventing gallstones.
EAT GREEN AND COLORFUL
Green is the color of the liver and spring, so eating green in-season vegetables is best for our bodies to thrive. Since spring is also about color, eating colorful fruits and vegetables for the season will help keep our liver and gallbladder happy while maintaining energy levels. Seasonal foods of color for spring include:
- Herbs: Chives, dill, mint, parsley, and tarragon.
- Greens: Arugula, spinach, baby lettuce, collards, and kale.
- Vegetables: Asparagus, beets, carrots, parsnips, radishes, turnips, and sugar snap peas.
- Fruits: Apricots, avocados, dates, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, raspberries, and strawberries.
Don’t forget to steam your vegetables at times to help balance all the cold, raw veggies. Avoiding too much raw, fried, or frozen during the spring will help keep our GI tract happy as well!
Emotions play a huge role in our liver as stress affects our liver qi. If we do not take proper care of our liver, emotions will overact on this energetic flow, and we will start to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Since the liver opens to the eyes, seasonal allergies are a concern during this blooming season. Apple cider vinegar helps to boost the immune system, helps to break up mucus and supports lymphatic drainage. Three times per day, mix one tablespoon of ACV with one tablespoon of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and a half-tablespoon of local raw honey (you may leave this out per preference if you’re vegan) and drink. And keep eating those dark green, orange, and yellow veggies for best nutrient density absorption in the body. Dandelion also works well as a spring cleanser.
Through harmonizing with spring energy, we begin to feel energized, light, and open. With tendons supple and strong, we can move easily through our day. With eyes clear and bright we can appreciate the beauty of spring. It’s time to enjoy your emotional and physical clarity, put that spring back in your step!